Published: March 20, 2007
While achieving premium and record prices paid at auction has become the norm for Ron Bourgeault and the crew at Northeast Auctions, the solid results posted in the recent New Hampshire Weekend Auction were achieved in somewhat of an atypical fashion. The auction, conducted February 23′5, featured numerous select collections, also quite normal for the auction house, yet it was the wide and qualitative range of materials and the desirability of the accessories that set this auction apart.
“I have never had a sale that I was as excited about in regard to the diversity,” stated Bourgeault after the auction. Accessories became a commanding force during each of the three days of selling, with furniture routinely taking a backseat to the smalls. The sale offered nearly 2,000 lots and grossed an impressive $6.1 million.
According to Bourgeault, it was the fresh material that electrified the large crowd in attendance, much of it consigned directly from descendants of historical figures, numerous prestigious collections and institutional deaccessions.
In regard to the hefty prices paid throughout the weekend, Bourgeault commented, “It was not just because we had killer smalls, it was because we had killer collections that contained killer smalls. We had the print collection that was phenomenal, we had the pewter collection that was phenomenal, the English silver was fabulous, the stuff from Indian Hill was absolutely wonderful, the material from Hope Starr Lloyd was wonderful, and the jewelry was beyond belief. It was really several different auctions, all rolled into one,” stated an enthusiastic Bourgeault.
The auction got off to a quick start on Friday morning with a choice selection of Americana crossing the block. First up was a red and white pinwheel-decorated appliqué quilt that opened at $200 and was being hammered down within moments for $406. Ten melon baskets in a variety of sizes, all painted white, sold at $1,508, and a small sampler dated 1873 brought $4,827.
Bourgeault and assistant auctioneer Peter Coccolutio set a blistering pace throughout the weekend, at times selling upward of 100 lots per hour.
Three pieces of early English pottery did well with a Bristol delft posset pot, circa 1730, selling at $9,280, an octagonal dish in yellow with press molded decoration highlighted by brown slip going out at $10,440, and a delft polychromed dish with multicolored floral decoration realizing $9,370.
A Jurgen Frederick Huge portrait of a towboat pulling a barge that was flying a large American flag sold above the presale estimates. Depicting the boats passing a lighthouse on Bridgeport Harbor, circa 1865, the lot realized $17,980.
A good selection of weathervanes also attracted a great deal of interest, with a large oxen by Cushing and White in a pleasing verdigris surface selling at $24,360, a full bodied cow vane with old gilt surface bringing $9,860, a Cushing and White Black Hawk horse fetching $5,800 and an Ethan Allen horse vane realizing $2,900.
One of the surprises of the sale was a carved round marble game board, 14 inches in diameter, with a good collection of swirl marbles, ex-collection of Charles Derby, that elicited a strong bout of bidding. The lot opened at only a couple hundred dollars and went back and forth between a bidder seated in the front of the gallery and a phone bidder with the game finally selling to the buyer in the room for $5,800.
The Friday session also featured the estate of Edward S. Mosley, from which came a most interesting assortment of items that had been removed from Indian Hill, the home of pioneer Americana collector Ben Perley Poore. Following in his father’s footsteps of purchasing antique furnishings and fragments from old homes in the 1820s and 1830s, Poore, who died in 1887, is considered to have been a major influence to later “great” collectors such as Henry Ford, Francis Garvin and Henry du Pont.
Although a major fire destroyed much of Indian Hill in the 1960s, a great deal of material was saved, including choice furnishings, a piece of carpet that Abraham Lincoln stood on while delivering his second inauguration speech, as well as items that Bourgeault commented had been “plucked from the ashes” of the destroyed home, such as Alexander Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of The War.
The collection attracted a great deal of attention with several surprises seen throughout the session. Consisting of 180 lots, the offering began with a nice New Hampshire Hepplewhite inlaid chest of drawers that brought $16,240. A sweet bird’s-eye maple Federal dressing table, believed to have been made in Portsmouth, was offered next. In a bold tiger maple, the reeded leg stand did well at $11,600. A small tiger maple box looked perfectly at home on top of the dressing table with a similar grain and coloration, and brought $5,104.
Highlights from the furniture included a Massachusetts North Shore Chippendale oxbow chest of drawers on a strong ogee bracket base with a shell carved drop pendant. Selling well above estimates, the attractive chest brought $30,160. Also attracting attention was a Hepplewhite inlaid mahogany card table in the manner of early Nineteenth Century Springfield area cabinetmaker William Lloyd that sold for $11,600.
A stately pair of fanback Windsor side chairs with bold turnings and nicely splayed legs more than doubled estimates as the pair realized $8,112, and a Massachusetts reverse-serpentine front desk with ball and claw feet brought $7,540.
The top lot of the session came as a romanticized portrait of Ben Poore in American Legion garb in a Middle Eastern scene was sold. Depicting Poore with pistols readied in his bandolier, the painting sold at $53,360.
Historical items from Indian Hill did extremely well with a framed lot consisting of an envelope addressed to Poore alongside several silk fragments that were identified in an accompanying letter as “A piece of the British flag surrendered by Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, and presented to General Washington by the first American Congress.” Estimated at $1/2,000, the lot saw spirited bidding with it hammering down at $16,240.
A set of three Paris porcelain sweetmeat stands from the dessert service of President Andrew Jackson doubled estimates as they sold for $29,000.
Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of The War volumes one and two were sold with Bourgeault commenting that they had been found in the ashes when Indian Hill burned in the late 1960s and that many of the pages were scorched and charred on the edges. Alexander Gardner had been dispatched among 20 or so photographers by Mathew Brady to make a photographic record of the war.
Gardner was eventually appointed to the staff of General George McClellan and by the end of the war he had photographed battles at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and the siege of Petersburg. It is believed that no more than 200 of the books, filled with often times gruesome images, were produced due to high production costs. Bidding on the lots was active with it opening on the floor at $2,250 and selling there at $23,200.
Other historical memorabilia included a large selection of documents that had descended in the family of Major General John Adams Dix, 1798‱879. Leading the group was an Suspension of Writ of Habeas Corpus issued to Dix by President Abraham Lincoln, July 17, 1863, that dealt with the New York City draft riots that involved an estimated 500,000 people and caused $1.5 million in damage. Opening at $85,000, the lot was hit at $90,000, then at $95,000 by a phone bidder. That bid was countered one time by another phone bidder with the lot selling at $116,000.
Another Lincoln document, signed as president, appointing Dix as major general of volunteers in 1861, sold for $13,340. The same price was paid for a lot of documents from Pennsylvania politician David Reddick, which included a draft of a prayer for “Abraham Lincoln, The Assassinated President.”
A piece of carpet that Abraham Lincoln stood on while delivering his second inauguration speech was charred from the fire at Indian Hill, yet the small section of the worn red carpet with star decoration sold for $4,600.
One low spot of the Friday session was the announcement made by Bourgeault that the Washington family seal and an accompanying “Great Seal of the United States” had been stolen during preview.
Maps And Prints
The Friday afternoon session offered a collection of “Historical and Topographical Prints” that brought strong prices from start to finish. Although mum on the source of the collection, the auctioneer revealed only that it was “an institutional collection that had been put together in the days when amassing a collection of this caliber could be assembled,” stated Bourgeault.
A sure sign of the stiff competition that would be seen throughout the day came early as a rare hand colored engraving by Amos Doolittle of “John Adams, President of The United States,” 1799, was offered. A wonderful image with a spread-winged eagle across the top and Adams in a vignette framed with red drapes and surrounded by the seals of the colonies, the lot opened at only a couple thousand dollars and was hammered down a short time later for $30,160.
A selection of early maps got the session off to a quick start with a partially colored etching depicting a chart of the Boston Harbor from The Atlantic Neptune by J.F.W Des Barres, London, 1775, selling at $17,400. It was followed by a hand colored engraving of the “Plan de al Ville du Port de Boston de la Nouvelle Angleterre” by Jacques Nicolas Bellin, Paris, circa 1762, that brought $34,800.
“A Plan of Boston and its Environs, Showing the True Situation of His Majesty’s Army and also those of The Rebels, Drawn by an Engineer at Boston, October, 1775,” a hand colored engraving published by Andrew Dury, London, 1776, was also well received with it hammering down at $37,120.
The top lot of the session came as a 1769 map by William Prince titled “A New Plan of Ye Great Town of Boston in New England in America” was offered. Engraved and printed by Francis Dewing, Boston, the rare American map, measuring 17½ by 2¾ inches, sold for $220,050.
The collection of lithographs covered a wide variety of subjects ranging from Westward Expansion to views of cities and states by makers such as Currier & Ives, George Smith, J.H. Bufford and William Bennett.
From the extensive selection of Bennett hand colored aquatints was “City of Charleston, South Carolina, Looking Across Cooper’s River” that was bid to $23,200 and “Richmond, From The Hill Above The Waterworks” that sold at $64,320. “City of Washington From Beyond The Navy Yard” also did well, bringing $16,240, while two different views of Baltimore sold at $17,400.
An etching with aquatint by J.F.W. Des Barres titled “A View of Boston, From The Atlantic Neptune,” London, 1779, was another lot to attract attention, with it selling at $48,720.
A couple of paintings were sold during the session with two Thomas Fransioli oils on canvas depicting Boston landmarks bringing strong prices. A modernist view of “Copley Square” did well at $25,520, while “Louisburg Square, Boston” was knocked down at $26,000. A John Whorf watercolor depicting bustling crowds around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Boston, estimated at $2/3,000 sold for $37,120.
A “Private Signals” litho by John T. Smith did well at $12,760, an aquatint titled “New York from Governor’s Island” by John Hill brought $13,920, “New York with the City of Brooklyn in the Distance” by Foreman and Brown made $19,720, and “New Orleans from St Patrick’s Cathedral” by B.F. Smith realized $13,920. The popular Currier & Ives image “Husking” sold for $6,090.
The Saturday morning session began with the highly regarded Charles Swain pewter collection. Collectors and dealers were out in force as this old-time collection crossed the auction block with many one-of-a-kind items evoking serious interest. While falling shy of achieving a record price paid at auction for any piece of pewter by just a bid or two, five- and six-figure prices were routinely achieved and records for individual makers and forms were established throughout the action-packed session on Saturday morning.
Swain was a 50-year member of the Pewter Collectors’ Club of America and he authored numerous articles, including a groundbreaking article published in 1963 in Antiques magazine regarding the interchangeability of pewter castings.
Swain’s collection was termed by retired senior curator of metals at Winterthur, and Swain’s nephew, Donald L. Fennimore as “one of the most significant assemblages of fine and early American pewter brought together in the Twentieth Century.” The dispersal of the collection at Northeast Auctions will surely be recorded as one of the most significant sales of fine and early American pewter in the new century.
Fireworks erupted early on Saturday morning as the first lot to cross the block was hotly competed for. The covered pewter tankard by William Kirby was actively pursued by several in the gallery with it finally being claimed by Michigan dealers Bette and Melvyn Wolf for $11,600.
Bourgeault asked for an opening bid of $1,000 for the next lot, an Eighteenth Century lidded tankard by New York pewterer Joseph Leddel. Hands shot up all over the place, although, Bette Wolf, seated in the rear row, and Wayne Hilt, seated a couple rows in front of her, soon established themselves as the key players. The bid rapidly escalated in $200 increments to the $10,000 mark. Bids then jumped to $1,000 advances, yet the action never slowed until it hit the $38,000, mark, where Bette Wolf dropped from the action.
Hilt appeared to have claimed the lot, until Melvyn Wolf, who had been standing off to the side of the gallery, prompted his wife to bid again, which she did hesitantly. Melvyn then rejoined his wife in the rear row and determinedly held his bid card high until he claimed the lot at $60,320.
Hilt would claim the next lot, an early Eighteenth Century pewter spoon by William Bradford that had been excavated in Lower Manhattan, for $3,712.
It would not be long before the most anticipated lot from the collection would cross the auction block, the Round Top Lutheran Church communal flagon and chalice attributed to New York City maker William Will. One of three known examples, the circa 1760 pieces had been used in the Upstate New York church until it disbanded in 1827 and were then passed to congregation members. In 2005, Swain was able to purchase the flagon and chalice, and he immediately sent it to be repaired with the missing finial replaced.
With several in the crowd poised for action, the flagon and chalice opened for bidding at $42,500 and action never slowed until Pennsylvania dealer Don Herr claimed the lot for a record price for form and maker at $138,000.
Other top lots from the collection included a pewter basin with scalloped edges by Henry Will, circa 1775, that sold to a telephone bidder for a record price of $63,800.
John Will pieces included a lidded and engraved tankard, circa 1752, that went to Hilt for a record of $49,880, while another lidded tankard in a pear-shape form sold to the Wolfs for $23,200. William Will pieces included a porringer that sold for $13,920, and a pear-shaped lidded tankard at $24,360.
Another William Will example to bring a strong price was a Queen Anne-style tea pot, circa 1764, that exhibited classic form from its bulbous belly to the finial dome top. Opening at $10,000, the lot was once again the subject of a great deal of attention, not only from pewter collectors, but also from Americana dealers. Bids jumped back and forth around the room and as soon as the pewter collectors seemed tuckered out, Americana dealer Millie McGehee hit the lot at $38,000. Bette Wolf countered from the rear of the room and McGehee hit the lot again at $40,000. Wolf came right back and after a brief pause claimed it for $47,570.
Philadelphia pewter also did well with a John Brunstrom lidded tankard selling at $30,160, while a Queen Anne-style teapot by the same maker brought $16,560.
A Lancaster, Penn., lidded chalice attributed to Johann Heyene went out at $30,480, a marked Parks Boyd handled mug made $14,500, and a lidded tanker attributed to Boston maker Semper Eadem brought $6,960.
Two more sessions from the Swain pewter collection are scheduled, with the next session to reach the block in May and another in August.
Furniture from the Swain collection also brought premium prices with the round-top tavern table on a three-legged triangular base leading the way. The table, shown partially on the cover with the Will flagon and chalice on top, and also an illustration in the catalog’s preface showing the table in the room where Swain’s collection was displayed †alongside his wingchair and its top home to the collection’s prized possessions. The table attracted a great deal of interest not only from Americana enthusiasts, but also those who had viewed the table in Swain’s home for so many years. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling at $44,080.
Other furnishings from the Swain collection included a William and Mary walnut dressing table that brought $17,400, a Pennsylvania Chippendale walnut tall chest that fetched $25,520, and a nice Chippendale lowboy thought to have been made in Philadelphia that realized $17,400.
Another surprise from the Swain collection was a carved mantel that had come from a Bucks County home. With strong architectural features and a chip carved central frieze, the mantel opened for bidding around $1,000. It was not long before everyone in the crowd sat up and took notice as the rare piece cleared the $10,000 mark. Bidding continued at a rapid pace with the lot finally hammering down at $26,680.
Bourgeault commented that someone had asked about purchasing it from the estate prior to being inventoried and as the mantel was carried away from the block, he stated, “This is the reason everything needs to come to auction. Let them come and buy it here where everyone has an equal shot at it. You never know what is going to happen and what it is going to bring,” he said of the impressive price.
Property from the estate of Hope Starr Lloyd was also well received, with the first two lots establishing strong prices and keeping the active pace of the auction alive. The first lot was a pair of Paris porcelain urn-form vases, circa 1810, with winged lion handles and the central panel painted with continuous harbor scenes. The pair sold at the high estimate of $5,800. Another pair of Paris porcelain urn-form vases followed, these by the Nast Factory, circa 1820, with scroll handles terminating in hippocampus masks and decorated with scenic landscape panels. This pair was also actively bid, with the lot selling well above estimates at $11,020.
A Philadelphia Chippendale armchair with shell-carved knees and ball and claw feet, provenance of the Wistar family, sold for $25,520, while a similar example, minus much of the carving, brought $11,600. An ornate neoclassical Philadelphia tall case clock with the dial signed J.E. Caldwell sold at $13,920.
The majority of the items offered Saturday afternoon consisted of furniture, although a few other odds and ends made their way into the session, including a large zinc figure of a Labrador retriever, marked Fiske, 50 inches tall and 53 inches long, that did well at $19,720.
Two mirrors that attracted serious attention included a Regency carved giltwood girandole mirror with a large eagle carved crest that sold for $44,080, and a nice Queen Anne walnut and pierce carved shell that realized $13,920.
Furniture included a Massachusetts William and Mary burl walnut veneered highboy that had seemingly spent as much time being dissected and thoroughly inspected during preview as it did whole. Apparently getting the OK from those who had looked the piece over, it was bid by several in the gallery, with it selling to a buyer standing in the rear of the auction hall for $44,080.
A nice Queen Anne mahogany tilt-top table was another lot to capture the attention of collectors and dealers. The attractive square-top tilt table with a molded serpentine edge, urn-form standard and shell carved knees was actively bid, with it selling to Connecticut dealer Arthur Liverant, Nathan Liverant and Sons, for $25,520.
A Massachusetts Chippendale mahogany serpentine front, graduated four-drawer chest, possibly from the North Shore, was another lot to capture the interest of the crowd. The chest, with a provenance of John Walton, sold between estimates at $29,000. A Massachusetts Chippendale graduated four-drawer oxbow chest on an ogee bracket base brought $23,200, and a good looking tiger maple Chippendale slant front desk on an ogee bracket base did well at $27,840.
Things started off with a bang on Sunday morning with a stunning assortment of estate jewelry. With the auction coming on the heels of Valentine’s Day, the auctioneer reasoned that many in the crowd had picked their presents out before the holiday and this session became the time for the beaus to make good on promises. Bourgeault laughingly quipped that “people that had forgotten Valentine’s Day really got nailed.”
The 100 lots of lady’s jewelry opened with a diamond, gold and platinum pin in a star shape doubling estimates as it realized $2,088, a diamond ring followed at $4,350, and another diamond and platinum ring brought $4,930.
It was not long before the fireworks began as a diamond and platinum necklace by J.E. Caldwell was offered. The Edwardian hinged necklace came together to form a “V” near the bottom with a double sided drop extending below. With a total of more than 75 carats of diamonds ranging in size from .05 to .95 carat, the dazzling piece carried a presale estimate of $75/100,000. Bidding on the lot was brisk with it easily surpassing estimates as it became the highest priced item in the auction, selling at $253,500.
A diamond and platinum bracelet with 40 emerald-cut diamonds, a total of 30 carats, also surpassed estimates, bringing $83,520; a diamond ring with an unusual kite-shaped stone surrounded by smaller diamonds, 4.5 carats, sold at $24,360; and a pair of marquis-shaped diamond earrings with pearhaped drop pendants brought $19,720.
The Abelman silver collection was another segment of the auction that attracted strong interest from a core group of dealers and collectors. The English silver ranged in form from petite salts and spoons to trays and tea stands of significant size. The George III period seemed to be a stylistic favorite for Abelman, although there was an assortment of choice items that ranged from William III, circa 1700, to some Victorian forms, circa 1860.
The Abelman collection got off to a strong start with a pair of George II silver casters by Samuel Wood, circa 1743, selling above estimates at $2,088. A William II silver tankard by Charles Overing, circa 1700, also surpassed estimates at $5,336.
George III candlesticks proved popular with a pair by John Café selling at $6,380, as did a pair by William Café. Another pair by William Café with spiraled stem sold for $7,540.
It was the American silver that garnered the top prices, however, as two Tiffany flatware sets led the grouping with a “Lap over Edge” service commanding the top price. The 241-piece service, designed by Charles Grosjean and introduced into the Tiffany line in 1880, sold at $95,120. A 219-piece service of Olympian pattern silver-gilt flatware designed by Edward Moore and F. Antoine Heller also did well. The service, introduced by Tiffany at the Exposition Universelle conducted in Paris in 1878, was hammered down at $31,320.
A flatware service by Sara and John Blake, London, circa 1811, in the George III style more than doubled estimates as it sold for $7,250.
A second grouping of items from the Hope Lloyd Starr estate crossed the block on Sunday afternoon and the assortment began with a Garrett and Sons, Philadelphia, coin silver six-piece tea and coffee service, circa 1860, that sold for $5,800. A pair of George III-style silver plate oval monteiths with scalloped top and reeded handles sold well above the $400/600 estimates as they brought $8,120.
The Starr estate offering concluded with a Classical Revival period dining room suite of 28 pieces that had “remained intact in the Lloyds’ family mansion for over one hundred years,” according to the catalog. The mahogany and brass inlaid suite was termed “the most spectacular dining room suite we have had the pleasure to offer.” The suite consisted of 20 chairs, a three-pedestal dining table, sideboard, server, china cabinet, breakfast table, wine cooler and silver canteen. Bidding on the lot was spirited with it selling at $58,000.
The auction finished with a selection of collection of porcelains including Chinese Export items and large collection of Derby porcelain figures. One of the surprises from the grouping of Chinese Export came as a figure of a pheasant perched on a rock took off. Painted in a variety of enamels including red, yellow and turquoise, and heightened with blue-gilt, the lot sold at $24,360.
The porcelain figural groups included a Derby porcelain gleeful musical duo by William Duesbury that sold at $9,860, while a pair of Bow porcelain bocage figures of musicians realized $5,600.
All prices include the 16 percent buyer’s premium charged. For information, contact Northeast Auction at 603-433-8400 or view www.northeastauctions.com.
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